I have always felt pretty comfortable hearing talks about the love of money being the root of all evil. I don’t want to give the idea that my family lives in poverty but we are certainly not wealthy and in my chosen field that is unlikely to change! So I have felt fairly sanctimonious when this topic comes up. But God got my attention through a Canadian Tire flyer which found its way to me. I skipped over the high ticket items but the little relatively inexpensive gadgets caught my eye. It dawned on me that I needed these things! Of course I do not really need more gadgets. I probably should find good homes for the ones I have. In that brief moment I saw my heart in a whole new way. No longer could I smugly look on while others dealt with issues of avarice or acquisitiveness. I had a lower budget version of the same issues.
In the Parable of the Loving Father, the young son in his opening dialogue illustrates this same vice. He says “Give me my inheritance” later in the story his older brother demonstrates this same attitude as he says to his father “You never gave me…” It was only as the younger one changed from a father “give me” attitude to a father “make me” one, that things changed.
My poor attitude and that of the two sons in Jesus’ parable is rampant in the west and it is not at all missing in the western church. Jesus spoke a lot about the use of our money and we say “Yes, Lord” but do not heed his admonitions to treasure Him and His Kingdom first. In many places, in fact the church teaches that we ought to be financially blessed and if we are not there is something deficient about our faith. This ‘health and prosperity gospel’ is very attractive in the west but it is a perversion of good news to the poor Jesus came to proclaim.
I am convinced that for the gospel to gain credibility again in the west that the Church must stand against this pernicious mindset. But we can only creditably do that if we take the plank from our own eye. I do not pretend to know what this means for you but for me it means I must ask myself some new questions “What would Jesus buy?” and “Where would Jesus shop?”. I need to as additionally “Who is helped by this purchase?” “Who is harmed?”
I want to be generous and hold things lightly and I want to be a good steward of what God has entrusted to me, whether that is little or much. Like the younger son I want to repent and say “Father make me as one of your servants”
This is a matter of personal integrity and it ought to be an issue of integrity for the Church in the world. Clothed in that kind of integrity we may speak good news to the poor with greater and greater authority.